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Cutting Out The Middleman

Sometime in the first half of 2005, I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress with my own hosting arrangement, cutting out the middleman. In the Fall of the previous year, Blogger had been bought by Google, and there were rumors that it would be changed over to a Google service soon – with no more contact to people who could help when it all would go sideways. I was reminded of that the other day when Translation Times of Judy and Dagmar Jenner disappeared from the blog universe (albeit only for a short while).

I am relieved that Judy and Dagmar got their blog back so quickly. Perhaps it is proof that being once removed from your data is not the end of the world anymore. However, I am paranoid enough to feel much better with direct access to the folders, the files, and the database that make up my blogs.

The Translation Times incident brought home two things:

One, never forget to include your blog in your regular backup routine. Back up the files that don’t change much (i.e. the WordPress files in case of this blog) from time to time. Back up your database as regularly as you back up your hard drive – assuming that you do regular backups of your hard drive. After all, that’s where the content of your blog resides. There are different ways of backing up the database. WordPress has a feature for downloading the database content as an XML file. If you have access to your server, you can use phpMyAdmin to download the whole database, structure and content. If you have questions about the phpMyAdmin back up, check the WordPress knowledge base.

Two, there is an alarming trend (well, alarming to me) of treating oftentimes proprietary applications as if they were the Internet, thereby pushing the concept of the open Internet and the free access paradigm into the background. It is almost like re-introducing the middleman. Many of the clients for whom I develop website are, for example, not aware that the browser can access URLs directly; they type everything, even URLs, into Google and pick from the search results. While I am developing their websites, they therefore often complain that it is not possible to access the pages I’m working on. (They are, of course, accessible by URL, just not through Google.) For them, Google is the browser’s function to access a website. Facebook is quickly taking on a similar function. And, in a way, Blogger falls into that category as well. Obviously those solutions offer conveniences that are not there in the raw Internet. What worries me, though, is that over time this will change the perception of the Web and there will be nobody left to guard its open nature.

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4 Responses to “Cutting Out The Middleman”

  1. In all honesty, I don’t even understand why anyone who uses a blog semi-professionally would host with Blogger. Almost anyone who has any type of web space could easily host a WordPress blog themselves for free and like you said – be independent and able to do whatever they want, including complete customizability if desired.
    And even people without web space you get WordPress hosting for a few bucks a month. With Fantastico or Installatron included with almost all mainstream hosting packages, installation and updates couldn’t be any easier – even for the very computer illiterate.

  2. Tess Whitty says:

    I moved from blogger (after being on blogger for 5 months) to self hosted WordPress at the end of 2010. The person who helped me set it up also set up so that I get a backup file of all the posts delivered to my inbox weekly. Super easy and convenient. Granted, Wordpess is less “user friendly” and require more knowledge to set up and maintain, but it was well worth it for me in the end. I also joined my website and my blog, which is both good and bad, good because it increases the SEO, bad since some people are only interested in the blog posts and do not like to be directed to the website also.

  3. Michael says:

    @Susanne: I wasn’t trying to single out Blogger in any way. I see this as a danger with all cloud-based computing. If you are a big business you may have the leverage not to fall victim to the all-too-often unexpected changes “out there.” As an individual, I believe I am better off with having as much access as possible, even if it means somewhat less convenience. Systems like WordPress give me that control. I am always suspicious of the ulterior motives of organizations like the big G when they offer valuable services for free. Remember Google’s directory assistance? I am sure the users loved it. Yet G. pulled the plug and gave as a reason that they had collected sufficient voice samples for whatever they were/are trying to develop. When will they have collected sufficient blog samples?

    @Tess: I’m glad to hear that you have set up automatic backups of your blog content!

  4. Judy Jenner says:

    Good stuff! All our other websites are customized WordPress templates, and we love them. For the blog, we do own the URL as well, and I *think* our techie guru has mentioned he’d migrate the blog away from Blogger. We started with Blogger because it was low-hanging fruit and super-easy, but our techie guru quickly suggested WordPress. Making it happen has been low on the priority list, but I will ask him to see if he can put a rush on it. 🙂 After all, it’s easy, but we always have a long to-do list…

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